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Monday, June 2, 2008

Curtains! The Summer Madness Comes To An End

Third Man writes:

Beginning with a whimper, the IPL ended with a bang. Finally, what seemed like an interminable case of summer madness is over. As the 45th and final day of the IPL produced a Sunday night thriller – a dream, last-ball finish – even the purists must have been drawn into the thrill of the chase.

Though it’s difficult to fathom a pattern in the shortest format of the game – some say the only pattern is its capriciousness – something must be behind the complete dominance of the Rajasthan Royals in the tournament. They frequently found themselves in tights spots in the tournament but, more often than not, they wriggled out. That’s what they did in the final, more than once.

Warne is, by all accounts, a remarkable leader of men – his boys, brothers and sons to him, look up to him. “You walk on the edge, and if you fall off, we’ll hold you,” his coaching assistant, Daren Berry, says of the role Warne sees for himself.

And the Royals regularly walked on the edge; even after the calamitous dismissals of Shane Watson, Mohammad Kaif and Ravindra Jadeja, Warned egged on Yusuf Pathan to keep going for the big shots. When Pathan slipped, run-out with direct hit from Suresh Raina, Warne calmly stepped in and held the team. And the dream endured.

The Royals had men who were supposed to be inexpensive, bargain buys – men who were not a marketing dream; but the team ended up with a remarkably high number of match-winners: Swapnil Asnodkar, Shane Watson, Graeme Smith, Yusuf Pathan, Sohail Tanvir and Warne himself. The young were fearless, the (cricketing) aged were firm and in body and mind. The result was not surprising. Expected to bring up the rear, they were the favourites by the time they got to the semifinals.

So, thus ended first edition of the IPL – a success, surely, in terms of the hype it generated, and the impossible amounts it brought into the game.

But I suspect there’s much more to IPL than was visible to the naked eye – it could well be much, much bigger. We’ll know in a year or two what the fruits are of what we’ve sown. The fruits of success are not always sweet – if you love cricket, you may not love the taste of things to come.

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